Skip to main content

Rose Bowl Game: Best moments, history, all-time scores

For over a century, the Rose Bowl has been "The Granddaddy of 'Em All." Let's look at the best moments from college football's greatest game.

Rose Bowl Game: Greatest moments, history, and all-time scores

It all began in 1902 — and went so poorly the first time, it didn't happen again for 14 years. More than a century later, the Rose Bowl Game remains one of the highlights of the college football calendar.

Let's take a look at the most important moments that made the Rose Bowl what it is today.

Rose Bowl: Need to know

1890

— The start of the Tournament of Roses begins as a New Year's Day festival in Pasadena. As part of the festivities, the group hosts several events including polo matches, tug-of-war, and various races. But eventually someone gets the bright idea to host an annual football game as part of the festival.

1902

— The beginning of the college football bowl season as we know it. In an effort to boost tourism, Tournament of Roses president James Wagner offers to cover the expenses for Michigan and Stanford to play a game in Pasadena.

— Originally dubbed the "Tournament East-West Football Game," Fielding Yost's undefeated Michigan team trounced Stanford, 49-0. So lopsided was the matchup that Stanford quit the game in the third quarter.

1916

— The return of the Rose Bowl, and the idea of matching up the best teams from East and West. Washington State shutout Brown, 14-0.

1923

— Opening of the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena. The former Tournament Park proved to small to hold the increasing number of fans who wanted to attend the annual game.

— Inspired by the Yale Bowl (built in 1914), the first Rose Bowl Game at its current site takes place on Jan. 1, 1923. USC scored two unanswered TDs to beat Penn State, 14-3.

1925

— Notre Dame makes its first appearance in the game, against Pop Warner's Stanford. Elmer Layden, one of the school's "Four Horsemen" scored three touchdowns. Two came on interceptions he returned for touchdowns.

— The Irish haven't played in Pasadena again since. They played in a Rose Bowl, but in Arlington for the College Football Playoff semifinal. The game moved out of California for 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

1926

— "The Game That Changed The South" between a nascent college football power in Alabama against West Coast favorite Washington. Wallace Wade brought in a 9-0 Crimson Tide team that scored 20 second half points to win, 20-19, and put a national focus on Southern football that remains to this day.

1929

— One of the most infamous plays in college football history. Cal center Roy Riegels — nicknamed "Wrong Way" Riegels ever since — picked up a Georgia Tech fumble, but ran the wrong way and scored a safety. Tech won the game, 8-7.

1942

— Rose Bowl Game moved to Durham, N.C. for one year amid fears of an attack on the West Coast. Japan bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, in addition to other attacks on Pacific shipping efforts. Duke invites Oregon State to place at its home stadium on the East Coast, and OSU accepts.

1946

— Agreement between the Big Nine (today the Big Ten) and PCC (today the Pac-12). After eight years of negotiating a deal, the leagues agree to send their champions to meet in the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day.

1997

— Ohio State's first Rose Bowl appearance since 1985 was a memorable one. Buckeyes quarterback Joe Germaine led a furious drive late, connecting with David Boston for the game-winning TD with 19 seconds left. The win deprived then-undefeated Arizona State of a likely national championship.

2002

— The first Rose Bowl which also served as a BCS National Championship Game. It marked the first time since 1919 that the game didn't feature a Big Ten and Pac-12 team. Miami def. Nebraska, 37-14.

2006

— Often called the greatest game in college football history, Texas and USC met in a Rose Bowl for the ages to determine the national champion. A close, back-and-forth matchup came down to a legendary game-winning TD run by Texas quarterback Vince Young as time ran out.

2015

— The first Rose Bowl played as a College Football Playoff semifinal. Pac-12 champion Oregon matched up with Florida State, the first ACC team to appear in Pasadena.

2018

— The second CFP semifinal at the Rose Bowl, and the first-ever overtime game. Georgia defeated Oklahoma, 51-48 in double overtime.

2021

— For the second time, the game moved out of California, to Arlington, Texas, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Also the third College Football Playoff semifinal. Alabama def. Notre Dame, 31-14.

2022

— Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud sets Rose Bowl records with 573 passing yards and six passing touchdowns.

— Buckeyes receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba finished with 347 yards in the game, setting a college football bowl record for receiving yards. Ohio State def. Pac-12 champion Utah, 48-45.

Appearances, records

The top 10 schools in Rose Bowl history

USC — 34 games, 25-9

Michigan — 20 games, 8-12

Ohio State — 16 games, 9-7

Washington — 15 games, 7-7-1

Stanford — 14 games, 7-6-1

UCLA — 12 games, 5-7

Wisconsin — 10 games, 3-7

Oregon — 8 games, 4-4

Cal — 8 games, 2-5-1

Alabama — 7 games, 5-1-1

Most frequent matchups

8 — USC vs. Michigan (USC 6-2)

7 — USC vs. Ohio State (USC 4-3)

4 — Washington vs. Michigan (Tied 2-2)

3 — USC vs. Penn State (USC 3-0)

3 — UCLA vs. Michigan State (MSU 2-1)

Rose Bowl scores

1900s to 1910s

1902 Michigan 49, Stanford 0
1916 Washington State 14 Brown 0
1917 Oregon 14 Penn 0
1918 Mare Island 19, Camp Lewis 7*
1919 Great Lakes 17, Mare Island 0**

* Mare Island represented players in the U.S. Marine Corps stationed at the Mare Island Shipyard in Vallejo, Calif. Camp Lewis consisted of members of the U.S. Army 91st Division.

** Great Lakes Navy Bluejackets featured players from the Naval Station Great Lakes in Chicago. Three future Pro Football Hall of Famers played on the team, including Bears owner/coach George Halas.

1920s

1920 Harvard 7, Oregon 0
1921 Cal 28, Ohio State 0
1922 Cal 0, Washington & Jefferson 0
1923 USC 14, Penn State 3
1924 Washington 14, Navy 14
1925 Notre Dame 27, Stanford 10
1926 Alabama 20, Washington 19
1927 Stanford 7, Alabama 7
1928 Stanford 7, Pittsburgh 6
1929 Georgia Tech 8, Cal 7

1930s

1930 USC 47, Pittsburgh 14
1931 Alabama 24, Washington State 0
1932 USC 21 Tulane 12
1933 USC 35, Pittsburgh 0
1934 Columbia 7, Stanford 0
1935 Alabama 29, Stanford 13
1936 Stanford 7, SMU 0
1937 Pittsburgh 21, Washington 0
1938 Cal 13, Alabama 0
1939 USC 7, Duke 3

1940s

1940 USC 14, Tennessee 0
1941 Stanford 21, Nebraska 13
1942 Oregon State 20, Duke 16*
1943 Georgia 9, UCLA 0
1944 USC 29, Washington 0
1945 USC 25, Tennessee 0
1946 Alabama 34, USC 14
1947 Illinois 45, UCLA 14
1948 Michigan 49, USC 0
1949 Northwestern 20, Cal 14

* Rose Bowl moved to Durham, N.C. out of fears Japan may attack the West Coast of the United States following the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

1950s

1950 Ohio State 17, Cal 14
1951 Michigan 14, Cal 6
1952 Illinois 40, Stanford 7
1953 USC 7, Wisconsin 0
1954
Michigan State 28, UCLA 20
1955 Ohio State 20, USC 7
1956 Michigan State 17, UCLA 14
1957 Iowa 35, Oregon State 19
1958 Ohio State 10, Oregon 7
1959 Iowa 38, Cal 12

1960s

1960 Washington 44, Wisconsin 8
1961 Washington 17, Minnesota 7
1962 Minnesota 21, UCLA 3
1963 USC 42, Wisconsin 37
1964 Illinois 17, Washington 7
1965 Michigan 34, Oregon State 7
1966 UCLA 14, Michigan State 12
1967 Purdue 14, USC 13
1968 USC 14, Indiana 3
1969 Ohio State 27, USC 16

1970s

1970 USC 10, Michigan 3
1971 Stanford 27, Ohio State 17
1972 Stanford 13, Michigan 12
1973 USC 41, Ohio State 17
1974 Ohio State 42, USC 21
1975 USC 18, Ohio State 17
1976 UCLA 23, Ohio State 10
1977 USC 14, Michigan 6
1978 Washington 27, Michigan 20
1979 USC 17, Michigan 10

1980s

1980 USC 17, Ohio State 16
1981 Michigan 23, Washington 6
1982 Washington 28, Iowa 0
1983 UCLA 24, Michigan 14
1984 UCLA 45, Illinois 9
1985 USC 20, Ohio State 17
1986 UCLA 45, Iowa 28
1987 Arizona State 22, Michigan 15
1988 Michigan State 20, USC 17
1989 Michigan 22, USC 14

1990s

1990 USC 17, Michigan 10
1991 Washington 46, Iowa 34
1992 Washington 34, Michigan 14
1993 Michigan 38, Washington 31
1994 Wisconsin 21, UCLA 16
1995 Penn State 38, Oregon 20
1996 USC 41, Northwestern 32
1997 Ohio State 20, Arizona State 17
1998 Michigan 21, Washington State 16
1999 Wisconsin 38, UCLA 31

2000s

2000 Wisconsin 17, Stanford 9
2001 Washington 34, Purdue 24
2002 Miami (FL) 37, Nebraska 14
2003 Oklahoma 34, Washington State 14
2004 USC 28, Michigan 14
2005 Texas 38, Michigan 37
2006 Texas 41, USC 38
2007 USC 32, Michigan 18
2008 USC 49, Illinois 17
2009 USC 38, Penn State 24

2010s

2010 Ohio State 26, Oregon 17
2011 TCU 21, Wisconsin 19
2012 Oregon 45, Wisconsin 38
2013 Stanford 10, Wisconsin 14
2014 Michigan State 24, Stanford 20
2015 Oregon 59, Florida State 20
2016 Stanford 45, Iowa 16
2017 USC 52, Penn State 49
2018 Georgia 54, Oklahoma 48
2019 Ohio State 28, Washington 23

2020s

2020 Oregon 28, Wisconsin 17
2021 Alabama 31, Notre Dame 14
2022 Ohio State 48, Utah 45


Follow College Football HQ: Bookmark | Rankings | News | Schedules | Facebook